October 15th, 2008
08:05 PM ET

"Western Pennsylvania is a racist area"

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Ed Blazina
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

U.S. Rep. John Murtha said today he expects Democratic nominee Barack Obama to carry Pennsylvania in next month's presidential election.

Mr. Murtha, a 17-term Democrat from Johnstown, told the Post-Gazette's editorial writers he sees momentum building in Mr. Obama's campaign across the state for the general election after he lost his party's April primary to Hillary Clinton. He thinks Republican John McCain's efforts have been stymied by the country's economic crisis.

"I think Obama is going to win, but I don't think it's going to be a runaway," he said. "I think he wins Pennsylvania."

Mr. Murtha said it has taken time for the state's voters embrace a black presidential candidate.

"There's no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area," said Mr. Murtha, whose district stretches from Johnstown to Washington County. "The older population is more hesitant."

Mr. Murtha said groups he deals with regularly, such as military veterans and senior citizens, have come around to supporting Mr. Obama in the past three months. He credited Mr. Obama with being the most organized candidate he has ever seen.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Editor's Note: Rep. John Murtha has issued an apology for the above statement:

“I apologize for making the comment that ‘Western Pennsylvania is a racist area.’

“While we cannot deny that race is a factor in this election, I believe we’ve been able to look beyond race these past few months, and that voters today are concerned with the policy differences of our two candidates and their vision for the future of our great country.

“Senator Obama has shown sound judgment and has presented us with a change from the failed policies of George Bush and John McCain. I believe he will win both Pennsylvania and the White House.”

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 15th, 2008
07:59 PM ET

Three weeks to go – what's working for the candidates?

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Drew Westen
Professor, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University

With three weeks left to go, the election appears to be a battle of titans: anxiety pitted against anxiety. Anyone who still thinks campaigns are "debates on the issues" (e.g., whether the newly unveiled McCain economic plan is better or worse than the plan released the day before by Obama) – or the corollary that presidential debates are primarily arguments between two opponents about their policies and positions – should watch the dial-testing CNN conducted during the presidential and vice presidential debates, which the cable network has run at the bottom of the screen during each debate. The dials indicated where undecided voters were moved positively or negatively by what the candidates said.

When the candidates lapsed into wonk-speak, Washingtonese, or a detailed discussion of what is most on voters' minds – the economy – the dials flat-lined. The dials moved, however, when the candidates moved the voters. They shot up when the candidates used a colloquial turn of phrase that conveyed a point well (not "you betcha!" which didn't move anyone anywhere but down), brought something important but abstract close to home by relating it to the lives of real people (e.g., when Obama talked about the "mortgage crisis" faced by policemen or firemen at the end of the month), used a memorable turn of phrase (e.g., Obama's comment that the terrorism that came to our shores began in Afghanistan and Pakistan and will end there), or used a rhetorical device such as repetition that makes a phrase "sing" (as when Biden repeatedly used the phrase about McCain, "he's not a maverick," in a rhetorical flourish).

They skyrocketed when the candidates revealed something about themselves that spoke volumes to voters about who they are (as when Biden choked up as he took ownership of parenthood away from Sarah Palin, leading the dials immediately to hit the ceiling for women (and for men about a second and a half later, after they'd reassured themselves that Biden's display of emotion and their own response to it didn't make anybody gay).

In the last debate, what was supposed to be John McCain's favored setting – the town hall meeting – turned out to favor Obama. Why? Because it put him in a setting much closer to the stump, where he seems to feel more comfortable displaying his emotional intelligence, rather than the more traditional debate and interview formats, where he seems to feel more comfortable displaying his general intelligence – and it put him eye to eye with his audience in the room and around the country, leading him to respond more personally and personably.

Read more

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 15th, 2008
07:15 PM ET

Obama attacks deregulation, but is it the devil he says it is?

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Peter Ferrara
National Review Online

Barack Obama never misses a chance these days to allege that the financial crisis is due to the right-wing philosophy of deregulation, “a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary.” The charge is echoed by fellow Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

They’re often unclear on specifics, and for a good reason: Not all deregulation hurts, and not all regulation helps. Republicans and Democrats alike supported a 1999 deregulation that has actually made this crisis easier to handle, for example. Also, Republicans have supported regulations that could have helped avert this problem, while the regulations Democrats enacted worsened it...

More recently, Obama has attacked McCain on deregulation by saying, “Senator McCain wrote that we need to open up health care to ‘more vigorous nationwide competition as we have done over the last decade in banking.’ That’s right, he wants to deregulate the insurance industry just like he fought to deregulate the banking industry. And we’ve all seen how well that worked out.” Obama is talking here about the deregulation to allow interstate banking, which McCain referenced in proposing interstate sales of health insurance. But the analogy actually supports McCain’s position: Interstate banking has been an unqualified success, strengthening banks and providing more competition and services for consumers. It has not contributed to the financial crisis as Obama implied.

The least regulated of our financial institutions, hedge funds, have fared the best in the current crisis.

Read the full article

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 15th, 2008
04:13 PM ET

Suburbs' pain could swing election

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.suburbia.jpg]Lawrence C. Levy
Executive Director of the National Center for Suburban Studies, Hofstra University

As they have for the last five elections, moderate "swing" suburbanites are almost certain to decide who will be the next president.

No wonder: More people live and vote in the suburbs than either cities or rural areas. And in these once rock-ribbed Republican communities, more suburbanites divide their loyalties between the major parties.

According to new research, the counties with the closest margins of victory in the last few presidential and statewide elections were all suburban - most of them in the most competitive "purple" states, such as Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.

But suburban voting power has been on the rise for years. What's new in this election year is the surprising level of economic pain suburbanites are feeling and the extent to which it will drive their decision between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The economy has been especially tough on the least prosperous homeowners, many of whom are new immigrant and minority groups diversifying suburbia, who took advantage of - or were taken advantage by - sub-prime mortgage loans they eventually couldn't afford.


Editor's note: Lawrence C. Levy is executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, which is hosting the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night. A former columnist and editorial writer for Newsday, he has written widely on political and social change in the suburbs.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 15th, 2008
04:02 PM ET

The presidential race: A question of character?

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Peter Wehner
Commentary Magazine

We have always understood that character, broadly defined, is important to possess for those in high public office, in part because it tells us whether our leaders warrant our trust, whether their word is dependable, and whether they are responsible. And one of the best indicators of character is the people with whom you associate. This is basic, elementary-school level common sense. The odds are your parents wanted you to hang around with the “right” crowd instead of the wrong crowd because if you hung around with the latter it meant its members would be a bad influence on you, it would reflect poorly on you, and you’d probably end up getting into trouble.

What applies to 10-year-olds also applies to presidential candidates.

Over the years, Barack Obama hung around with some pretty disturbing characters, and what we’re talking about aren’t isolated incidents. It has happened with a slew of people on a range of issues. He has connected himself with domestic terrorists (William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn), with an anti-American and racist minister (Jeremiah Wright), and with corrupt people (Antoin “Tony” Rezko) and organizations (ACORN). What we see, then, is a pattern.

Will it be something that will manifest itself if Obama is elected President? It’s impossible to know for sure, and we can hope it wouldn’t be the case. But it might.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics
October 15th, 2008
02:55 PM ET

Pro-life and pro-Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.mccain.obama.split.jpg]Melinda Henneberger

Marlene Turnbach is a pro-life Democrat from Hazelton, Pa., who twice voted for George W. Bush over abortion. As she told me a couple of years ago when I interviewed her for a book on women voters, "Bush won because all my friends who are Democrats voted for him and put abortion over everything else."

Though only about 13 percent of those likely to turn out at the polls are true single-issue pro-life voters, I met a surprising number of women, most of them Catholic, who said that they did not expect the Democratic Party to switch its basic position on Roe v. Wade but nonetheless felt increasingly marginalized and unwelcome in the party as dissenters from party orthodoxy on that one issue.

And now? Not so much. With the economy in freefall, abortion opponents afraid even to peek at their third-quarter 401(k) statements suddenly see their way around this obstacle on their road home to the Democrats. In Turnbach's state, where one-third of all voters are Catholic (and six in 10 Catholics describe themselves as pro-life), pro-choice Barack Obama is nonetheless ahead of John McCain, who opposes abortion rights, by 12 points in one poll and 14 in another.

At a rally in Johnstown, Pa., on Saturday, Sarah Palin all but pleaded with pro-life voters to give her party one more chance to deliver on 35 years of pro-life promises: "In times like these with wars and financial crisis, I know that it may be easy to forget even as deep and abiding a concern as the right to life, and it seems that our opponent kind of hopes you will forget that." Yet when I checked back in with Turnbach and others, it was clear that for them social issues are off the table, at least for now.

It isn't that Turnbach's stand on abortion has shifted any, she says. But her view of the Republican Party's commitment to seeing Roe overturned has: "Even if McCain does get in, he's not going to do anything" that would lead to a reversal of Roe. The legality of abortion "is not going to change," she's concluded, "and I really don't think it should be an issue" in this presidential race.


October 15th, 2008
02:52 PM ET

ACORN becoming an embarrassment for Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.acorn.jpg caption="An investigator enters the ACORN office in Las Vegas, Tuesday. A Nevada secretary of state's office spokesman said Tuesday that investigators are looking for evidence of voter fraud at the office."]Dick Morris
Real Clear Politics

As Obama lengthens his lead, the Republicans are praying that the election becomes close enough for the Democrats to steal. But, meanwhile, ACORN, the radical community group, is becoming an embarrassment for Obama. It is not as if its shenanigans are likely to tip the result, with the Democrats so far ahead, but as they are raided by the FBI in state after state (11 so far) they are becoming identified as the electoral equivalent of Greenpeace - extremists who will stop at nothing to get their way.

What makes ACORN particularly embarrassing for Obama is that he used to be one of them. He served as general counsel for ACORN in Illinois, channeled millions to the organization from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (whose funds he distributed), and has lately spent $800,000 of his campaign money to subsidize the group's activities. For this emolument, ACORN has registered voters 15 times over, canvassed the graveyards for votes and prepared to commit electoral fraud on a massive scale.

With friends like this, Obama doesn't need enemies. As their radical activities make headlines every day, Obama's intimate involvement with these radicals becomes more and more of a political liability.

The other Obama scandals have no topical relevance. Rev. Wright no longer spews hatred from the pulpit and has apparently been persuaded to stay away from media interviews. Likewise, William Ayers is making himself scarce; the Obama/Ayers relationship, whatever it may have been, is clearly in the past. Rezco is facing sentencing in his own corruption case, but isn't likely to turn on the one man who may acquire the power to pardon him.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics
October 15th, 2008
02:50 PM ET

Culprits of the Collapse – #6 Alan Greenspan


So who is to blame for this financial fiasco?
That’s the question we’ve begun investigating.
We’ve put together a list of the Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse.
#6 on our list: Former Federal Reserve Chariman Alan Greenspan. CNN's Tom Foreman reports.

October 15th, 2008
02:22 PM ET

What’s wrong with being a Muslim?

Campbell Brown asked recently "So what if Obama were a Muslim or an Arab?" on her show, Election Center.  Here's one iReporter's personal response: Why is someone being a Muslim a bad thing? It's a religion that so many people in this country practice. Why is it a negative thing?

Filed under: Barack Obama • Campbell Brown • iReport • Raw Politics • Religion • T1
October 15th, 2008
01:47 PM ET

Beat 360° 10/15/08

Ready for today's Beat 360°?

Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.

Check back here later to see if you are our favorite!
Here is the 'Beat 360°’ pic:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell reacts on stage, with Nigerian recording artist Olu Maintain, left and unidentified man, at the Africa Rising Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, in central London, Tuesday. Powell attended the festival which was a celebration of African music and fashion, to highlight the talents and achievements of the African continent.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions!

Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.


Beat 360° Challenge

But wait!… There’s more!

When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Read more here….

Good luck to all!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
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